Public Athletic, Cultural and Entertainment Facilities Board

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The Public Athletic, Cultural and Entertainment Facilities Board of the City of Birmingham is a five-member board, formed as a public corporation, as a "public park and recreation board", and as a "governmental fund component unit" of the City of Birmingham. It was created on August 9, 2011 to assume responsibility for the development of Regions Field and the Negro Southern League Museum adjoining Railroad Park in Birmingham's Parkside District. The five members of the PACE Board, though originally nominated by the Mayor of Birmingham, are formally appointed by the Birmingham City Council.

Under its original Funding Agreement, signed on December 15, 2011, the PACE Board issued $64 million in bonds (Series 2011A and 2011B) to finance the construction of the baseball stadium and museum on city-owned land. The 30-year bonds are scheduled to mature on October 1, 2041. They are backed by a 3.5% increase in the Birmingham Lodging Tax, the proceeds from which are recorded as a general obligation of the city, and by a 30-year lease agreement with the Birmingham Barons. When actual construction costs exceeded the amount borrowed by $4.1 million, the City entered into a separate agreement, finalized in 2015, to make periodic payments to the contractor from excess special lodging tax revenues.

In April 2014 the city sold part of the subject property to the developers of the Venue at the Ballpark apartment complex. The proceeds from the sale were turned over to the PACE Board.

Later that same month, the Railroad Park Foundation proposed to transfer oversight of the park property to the PACE Board and to transfer the responsibility for security and landscape maintenance of the park to the Birmingham Department of Parks and Recreations, thereby reducing the foundation's operational expenses to allow for a more favorable refinancing of its remaining construction debt. That proposal was not accepted by the Birmingham City Council, which instead passed a resolution allowing the Mayor's office to negotiate a renewal of the agreement between the city and the park foundation.

In the city's agreement to complete the Negro Southern League Museum, finalized in August 2014, the Birmingham City Council agreed to make a one-time $3.6 million payment to the PACE Board, and to enter into an open-ended arrangement to continue to fund its operation expenses, which would be offset by revenues from gift shop sales, event rentals, and a planned restaurant.

The terms of the inaugural members of the board all expired in 2017 and no new appointments were made. Therefore, in order to complete a lease agreement for Michael's Steak and Seafood to open in the Negro Leagues Museum in 2018 a new group of members had to be appointed.

In August 2018 the City renegotiated the PACE Board's $53 million in outstanding debt to avoid a balloon payment in 2026. The outstanding bond debt is still expected to be repaid in full in 2041.

Board members

References

  • Bryant, Joseph D. (August 8, 2011) "Mayor Bell might use eminent domain to get Birmingham Barons ballpark built." The Birmingham News
  • Bryant, Joseph D. (April 25, 2014) "Needing some help: Railroad Park seeks more private cash, asks city to pay for operations." The Birmingham News
  • Bryant, Joseph D. (August 27, 2014) "Fundraising to ramp up after Birmingham City Council approves $2.8 million for Negro League baseball museum: Here's what we know so far." The Birmingham News
  • Bryant, Joseph D. (October 1, 2014) "Board overseeing Birmingham baseball museum officially takes over project, accepts city funding and awards major contracts." The Birmingham News
  • Edgemon, Erin (May 4, 2018) "In order for restaurant to open, defunct Birmingham board coming back to life." The Birmingham News
  • Edgemon, Erin (May 29, 2018) "Controversial Birmingham board reconvenes to approve restaurant." The Birmingham News
  • Edgemon, Erin (August 28, 2018) "Birmingham to refinance $53 million Regions Field debt." The Birmingham News